Emissions of gases and particles from the combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels in Africa are expected to increase significantly in the near future due to the rapid growth of African cities and megacities. The estimated trends in African emissions are consistent with emissions provided by global inventories, but they display a larger range of values.
According to a recent study by the Environmental Research Letters, African combustion emissions contributed significantly to global emissions in 2005. This contribution will increase more significantly by 2030: organic carbon emissions will for instance make up 50% of the global emissions in 2030. Furthermore, we show that the magnitude of African anthropogenic emissions could be similar to African biomass burning emissions around 2030.
The United Nations on the other hand predicts that Africa could account for 40 percent of the world’s population by 2100, with its urban population doubling from 2000 to 2030. In the absence of stronger emissions regulations, the continent would see a “considerable increase” in particle pollution and perhaps as high as 55 percent of the global total.
Africa is urbanizing quickly, and pollution from sources like vehicle exhaust, wood burning and dusty dirt roads has reached worrisome levels in many cities. Equally or more troubling is air pollution inside homes, caused by cooking with wood or other sooty fuels. But few nations outside South Africa have imposed regulations to address the problem, experts say.
The World Health Organization is releasing information soon about how various technologies can improve indoor air pollution. The concept of cleaner cook stoves has been getting high-profile attention; however, some experts caution that some of the new cook stoves may be focused less on reducing air emissions than on other benefits like increased energy efficiency and preventing forest degradation.
Article by Mercy Kariuki.